Proper Taco brings flavors and spice to Downtown Midland

Ashley Rae was on the lookout for a good taco in Midland – a proper taco. Armed with food industry experience, discerning taste buds and a taste for Mexican food, Rae opened Proper Taco in Downtown Midland in July 2019.

Along with cooking skills, Rae also has a sense of humor, which can be found on Proper Taco’s Facebook page or in the shop.

Case in point – there are rules.

The first rule of Proper Taco is: Tell everyone about Proper Taco.

Proper Taco gives taco lovers plenty to salivate over and brings new and interesting flavors to traditional favorites. Rae says her interest is to get customers to try new flavors or possibly expand their taste buds and try something new.

A Hemlock native that has lived in Midland for over 10 years, Rae has found cooking just comes naturally. Her background is in elementary education and she also had a stint in real estate. A passion for food and good flavor has led her down a different path.

Proper Taco also serves chili.

“My goal is to put out a great taco with flavor, seasoning and flair,” says Rae. “And I like playing with flavors to give customers something unexpected or maybe something they haven’t tried before.”

Rae’s flavors tend to run on the spicy side, but can be turned down or altered with sauce on the side. Proper Taco’s flavors also include bacon, pineapple, and chipotle braised meats and pickled onion and vegetables.

“We have everything marked on the menu which dishes run a bit hotter and we try to manage expectations on the spice level,” she says.

Things filed under something you may not have tried before includes Proper Taco’s cactus dip among other dishes. Rae also makes a mean chili, and all dishes come with house-made sauces and sides like cilantro-lime or poblano crema, or mango-habanero slaw.

Rae is a fan and follower of the food scene in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Chicago.

“I also draw inspiration from following food and cuisine staples like Bon Appetit and regional standouts in other cities,” she says.

Something Rae is interested in trying is alternative proteins and ingredients like beef cheek, duck and more.

“I’m exploring other flavors and ingredient options for tacos, so the menu will continue to evolve as we grow,” says Rae.

You can find Proper Taco at 139 Ashman Street in Midland, online at or connect with them on Facebook or Instagram.

Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. She ran Catalyst Midland as the publication's managing editor from October 2017 through September 2020. Her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner. 
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